Applied Health Sciences names new Senior Research Fellows

Three Faculty of Applied Health Sciences (FAHS) professors have received faculty fellowships that further support their research.

Professor of Kinesiology Bareket Falk, Associate Professor of Health Sciences William Pickett and Professor of Kinesiology (Primary) and Health Sciences Wendy Ward have been awarded FAHS Senior Research Fellowships.

“These three newly appointed FAHS Senior Research Fellows have been recognized for their research excellence, their extensive and leading research as well as their commitment to graduate student mentorship,” says FAHS Dean Peter Tiidus.

The FAHS Senior Research Fellowship was created to support “world class” researchers in the Faculty who are pursuing and expanding their “internationally recognized cutting-edge research program,” says Tiidus.

Falk,  a pediatric exercise physiologist, researches children’s muscle function, responses to exercise and the physiological effects that physical training has on healthy children and those living with chronic conditions.

She and her team have found that not only are children’s muscles not as strong as those of adults even after accounting for children’s smaller muscles compared to their adult counterparts, but they also function differently during exercise.

“When we prescribe activity to children, it shouldn’t be based on what we know is good for adults,” says Falk. “We’ve been applying adult guidelines to children’s exercise where this doesn’t lead us to good results.”

William Pickett, who is an epidemiologist by training, is relatively new to Brock. He researches children’s health, rural and agricultural health, violence and injury prevention, and determinants of health.

Pickett co-leads the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HSBC) study in Canada, a nationally representative cross-sectional study that collects data on youth aged 11 to 15 years old every four years to gain insight on young people’s well-being, health behaviours and social contexts.

“I am excited by the possibilities here,” says Pickett. “Child health and its determinants seem to be a particular strength at Brock, and there are many established groups here that offer wonderful opportunities for new collaboration for our own HBSC network.”

Wendy Ward, a recognized expert on bones and nutrition, investigate ways of developing dietary strategies that help support the development of healthy bones and also protect against osteoporosis, a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue that can lead to increased risk of fracture.

“While diet can influence bone health throughout life, awareness about bone health and the risk of fractures due to osteoporosis is highest as we age,” says Ward. “With Niagara’s aging population, it is important that individuals understand how diet can help support a strong skeleton.

“The opportunity to train the next generation of health researchers within this research program is a privilege,” she says.

With funding from a wide variety of high-level agencies, she’s been able to acquire cutting-edge technologies to conduct advanced imaging, biomechanical strength testing and biochemical analyses. Ward’s team examines how calcium, vitamin D, flaxseed and its omega-3 fatty acid, fish oil, flavonoids in tea and citrus, and soy and its isoflavones impact bone health.

This brings to five the total number of Fellowships to date.

Ward, Pickett and Falk join existing Fellowship holders Terrance Wade, Professor of Health Sciences, and Stephen Cheung, Professor of Kinesiology.

Criteria and standards for the five-year Fellowship, which can be renewed once, are modelled after those set out in the Canada Research Chairs program.

These include the need for researchers to be recognized internationally as leaders in their fields; outstanding and innovative world-class researchers whose accomplishments have made a major impact; have superior records of attracting and supervising graduate students and postdoctoral fellows; and be proposing an original, innovative research program of the highest quality.

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